Car 

Back in December my Chevy Trailblazer, that I had been driving for over 7 years, caught fire on the way to work. I made it to the parking lot at the office, got out, popped the hood and saw a flame about 9″ wide. I shut the hood, got my stuff out, and called 9-1-1. By the time the firefighters got to where I was the fire had gone out.

For a few weeks I had been hearing a low-pitch droning or grinding sound when I’d shift into drive. I never heard this when backing up, only when I was first pulling away from a stop. I never heard it in Park or Neutral. I kept telling myself, during that time, that I needed to have it looked at. But I never got around to taking it to anyone.

All that changed on Friday, December 16th.

I called AAA and got it towed to a garage. I sat in the waiting area at the garage for a couple of hours waiting for a ride. While I was there the freak-out portion of the morning’s events presented itself in the form of overthinking.  I knew the vehicle would need a rebuild of the transmission at best, and a new one at worst. I also knew that I didn’t have the cash to have the work done. So I set an appointment with a sales rep at Carmax.

At Carmax I sat in a few vehicles, mostly other SUVs, but I have to give my parents rides to their appointments and they had a really hard time getting in and out of the Trailblazer, and it was lower to the ground that most SUVs I see. As I was taking with the rep I brought up the subject of cars. She let me sit in a few, and towards the end I checked out a couple of Nissan Altimas. There was a tan 2014 that was a couple of thousand lower than a 2015 next to it and had lower mileage. The problem was the claim tag. Carmax places a hold tag on the dash of vehicles someone has said they want. So I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it. The rep looked at the tag and realized that it had expired. You have 72 hours to come back and complete the purchase, and that customer failed to do that. So she filled out a claim ticket for me and we went inside to start the qualification process.

A couple of hours later I drove off the lot in a 2014 Nissan Altima with 20,100 miles on it.

It took a few weeks to for me to quit feeling like I was low enough to drive under the car in front of me. I had a pickup from 2003 to 2010, and a midsize SUV from 2010 to 2017. So I was used to a different perspective on the road. For a while. being in a car was weird.

The plan was to hold off getting into another car loan until this coming summer, but the universe and the Trailblazer had other ideas. I’m still  working on cutting costs so I can fit this car note into my budget better. The gas mileage is vastly improved over the SUV. So that was an immediate reduction. I’m still learning about the Altima, even the controls have taken getting used to, having had GM vehicles for nearly 20 years.

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The wrong saw of conservatism

The wrong saw cuts wrong every time.

barrydeutsch

I don’t know who was first to say that, but it is always true. People on the “Red Right” want cuts everywhere except where cuts are needed. Conservatives often bring up cutting the arts, Social Security, or some other social program, while not batting an eye as the costs of empire rise.

Return to Prepping…Someday

I got way off track a few years ago and because of the layoff and its aftermath I have not been prepping. My goal is to return to it one of these days. I hope the worst case scenario hasn’t happened by then. But, who knows. I am going to start putting aside silver again. I think my budget will allow for one or two ounces a month. So my goal for 1 June, 2015 is to have 25 ounces on hand. We’ll see how that goes.

Issues that I’ve written about on my blog at clutterstruck.com have gotten in the way of my being able to do anything else towards preparedness. Right now, things are a bit tight at the alien hideout.

Kits on the Cheap

This is going to be an ongoing topic. I want to explore options for people to get themselves to a level of preparedness while paying for as much of everything else as possible. With larger and larger chunks of our checks going to the oil companies we still need to figure out a way to stock up on things and get our kits together.

When you visit gear-related forums you’ll find cliques dedicated to certain product-lines. If you have “disposable” income then you get the $100 multitool or backpack, if not then you have to do a lot more homework.

Preppers and Tools
Our goal is to get a set of tools that will probably be distributed amongst several kits. We’ll want to find a middle between affordability and quality. Places like pawn shops and thrift stores and buying from individuals off Craig’s List can help with both of those.